ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) Thorbjorn Olesen won the Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday, securing the biggest payday of his career after nearly throwing away the seven-shot lead he took into the final round.
The 92nd-ranked Dane’s lead was reduced to a single shot at one stage thanks to a brilliant scoring burst from David Horsey of England.
But Olesen responded with vital birdies on the 12th, 14th and 15th on his way to a closing 69 to finish 20 under par and claim the first prize of nearly $1.2 million.
Olesen’s form in Turkey is surprising, given he made the cut at just four of his last 13 events. His last win was at the Dunhill Links Championship in October 2015.
Horsey and China’s Li Haotong shared second place on 17 under after matching rounds of 65, with Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger two shots further back in fourth.
No player has ever squandered a seven-shot lead after 54 holes on the European Tour, with Martin Kaymer the most recent to lose a six-shot advantage at last year’s Abu Dhabi Championship.
But that looked a distinct possibility once Horsey fired five birdies to race to the turn in 29 and Olesen three-putted the ninth to card just his fourth bogey of the week.
The gap was briefly down to one when Horsey two-putted from long range for a birdie on the par-five 12th, with Olesen finding a greenside bunker with his approach to the same hole.
Olesen came up eight feet short with his recovery from the sand but crucially holed the putt to restore his two-shot lead and then produced a superb tee shot on the par-three 14th to set up a tap-in birdie.
Horsey closed the gap to two shots once more with a birdie on the 15th, only for Olesen to do likewise in the group behind after pitching to four feet.
And when Horsey three-putted the 16th after leaving himself with a severely breaking birdie putt, Olesen could afford to drop a shot at the same hole on his way to a hard-fought fourth European Tour title.